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The low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet is controversial, but many athletes and fitness enthusiasts swear by it and claim it has had a positive effect on their performance. Former pro cyclist Jeremy Powers was curious about the results he may be able to get from achieving ketosis and recently embarked on a 5 hour 1
He starts with a breakfast of eggs, bacon, spinach, and cheese, then sets off, maintaining an average speed of 20 mph, and keeping an eye on his heart rate and ketone levels.
“They say if you work out and do ketosis, your ketone levels start to drop, so I would expect .7,” he says. “I haven’t eaten anything, maybe I’ll have a snack. So far, I’ve been fine, my average is 212 watts, my heart rate is 126.”
On the go, Powers eats peanut butter and bacon sandwiches (on keto-friendly bread, of course) with salted cashews and uses salt capsules to meet his body’s electrolyte needs in the face of the intense heat of the day.
“I feel a little uptight, I’m not going to lie, but given the heat and the material, it’s difficult to absorb the electrolytes,” he says. “Overall, I feel good, my performance goes up, my ketone levels keep going up. So good so far … I almost didn’t eat enough calories to justify this type of energy expenditure, but the ketones are.” I protect myself and keep working and I am still able to get the job done, which is so surprising. This is definitely one of the strangest things I’ve ever done in my entire life, I can put that factually. “”
To stay safe in the heat, Powers’ drive is closer to 90 miles than 100. “I predicted things will go a certain way and the results just didn’t come true,” he says. “I was sure I was going to have a catastrophic bang and drive home … But literally nothing went wrong. I was able to cut the wattage, my heart rate didn’t go crazy, I didn’t get heat stroke. I took the low intensity ride So I didn’t give up 100 percent on every climb, but I’ve had periods where my heart rate climbed to 170 and I was riding super hard. “
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Powers explains that he always had a burnout problem during long races because of his blood sugar and that this challenge was a way for him to assert himself in that regard. “I wanted to see if I could be more metabolically flexible as a test for myself,” he says. “And honestly, it wasn’t easy for me … Diet is so personal. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you.”
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